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What to Include in an Entry-level Resume

The content of your resume will vary according to the job you’re targeting, your potential employer, your industry, and your long-term career plans. For example, if you’re searching for work in product development, manufacturing, or marketing, you’ll make different choices to that of an applicant looking for a position in healthcare or hospitality. Needless to say, there’s no single right way to create a resume at the entry level.

But at the same time, there are a few details and subsections that almost every entry-level employer will need to see. You’ll want to include each of these subsections—at a minimum—and you’ll want to make sure they meet standard expectations. Take a look at the entry-level resume samples and you’ll notice that almost all of them are broken into the following subheadings:
  • Resume Summary
  • Education Section
  • Work Experience Section
  • Skills Section

Furthermore, you’ll have a few different formatting options to choose from.

You can use a chronological layout, which emphasizes your work experience section and orders your job history or relevant experience (like internships, volunteer roles, etc.) by date. This is the most common format and the one that hiring mangers are most used to receiving.

Alternatively, you can use the functional layout rather than the traditional chronological layout. While the chronological layout emphasizes a candidate’s previous positions, the functional layout shines a spotlight on core competencies, areas of expertise, and the future contributions the candidate can offer to the company.

Since you may not have many past positions to document, the functional layout may offer a more practical option.

Look for more detail in the work experience section below, and review the entry-level resume samples to see how this will appear on the page.
  

How to Write the Entry-level Resume Summary Statement

This first and most important section of your resume will appear at the top of the page, just under your heading and contact information. This short introduction will include about four lines of text that will introduce you to your reader and provide a quick summary of your most important credentials and qualifications. Before you draft and edit this section, think carefully about the kinds of details that your target audience will find the most interesting.

Study the entry-level resume samples in this set to get a sense of the language and tone that will help you stand out. Here are a few additional examples:

Administrative coordinator with strong work ethic and high level of organizational commitment. Proficient with all aspects of Microsoft Office Suite, highly capable problem solver, and excellent project manager with strong executive functioning skills. Experience with event planning and complex scheduling.

Recent accounting graduate seeking junior level auditor position with mid-sized firm. Strong math, logic and organizational skills and focused attention to detail. Recently completed competitive internship with XYZ Co. Regularly provide pro-bono volunteer account management services to non-profit animal rescue group in Brooklyn, NY.

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How to Write the Entry-level Education Section

Your education will play a vital role as you work to earn the attention and respect of your reader. Place this section at or near the top of the page, and create a separate entry for each of your degrees or academic achievements.

Start with your most recent degree, certificate, or diploma and list the title of the honor, your institution, and your graduation date. You can also list your GPA if it makes you proud and is above 3.0. Don’t forget to mention your cum laude status and any special awards or distinctions you earned along the way.

If you choose, you can also create a separate section that lists your most important and relevant courses. Some employers like to confirm that the classes you’ve taken align with the needs of the position. Of course, if you have official state licenses or certifications, you’ll need to share this information in your education section as well.

 

How to Write the Entry-level Work Experience Section

As mentioned above and demonstrated by the entry-level resume samples, your work experience section can take any one of several formats; you can apply the chronological layout, the functional layout, or any combination of the two that best allows you to show off your track record of practical hands-on accomplishments.

Again, if you’ve never held a professional job before and you don’t have a lot of other relevant experience (e.g. volunteerships, internships, etc.), it may be to your advantage to choose the functional format for this purpose. In this case, you’ll break your work experience section into two separate subsections and you’ll dedicate the first subsection to your abilities, areas of expertise, and highly relevant skill sets. These may also include your areas of special interest, and they can provide a forecast of where you plan to take your career in the future. In either case, employers will use this section to determine if you have the technical or clinical skills that suggest readiness for this role. They may also use this list to determine if your long-term plans are a fit for the company.

After your list of core competencies, you’ll create another heading that briefly lists each previous “job” you’ve held; some of these may be volunteer positions, leadership roles in clubs or societies, part-time jobs, temporary jobs, or internships. Detail only the title of the role and the company that sponsored it.

On the other hand, if you do have quite a few examples of relevant work experience, you may want to consider the chronological approach. In this case, you’ll leave out a section dedicated to your abilities and interests and go right into a work experience section that details your career progression in chronological order. For each job you’ve held, outline the job title, company name, company location and employment dates, and don’t forget to include 3 to 5 bullet points for each listing that describe the responsibilities and accomplishments associated with the role.

 

Action Verbs to Include in Your Entry-level Work Experience Section

If you’re completing a work experience section in the chronological style, you’ll be using verbs to describe your responsibilities and accomplishments (check the entry-level resume samples to see what we mean). As you choose these verbs, you’ll want to focus on dynamic action verbs instead of weaker verbs that suggest static states of being. For example, instead of “Was responsible for leading a large team”, try “Led a large team”. Here are a few action verbs that can keep your work experience section concise and memorable:
  • Organized
  • Created
  • Developed
  • Solved
  • Designed
  • Taught
  • Negotiated
  • Maintained
  • Held
  • Repaired
  • Presented
  • Achieved
  • Administered
  • Researched
  • Wrote
  • Revised
  • Managed
 

How to Write the Entry-level Skills Section

After your work experience section, you’ll add another section that will showcase your special skill sets, specifically the skills that haven’t been mentioned yet at this point in your profile. These will include skills and abilities that the employer has mentioned in the job post as well as those that haven’t been mentioned but that seem like they still could be relevant to the position.

They can include software skills, communication skills, foreign language skills, negotiation and public speaking skills, organization and leadership skills, and even artistic or athletic skills that might give your employer a sense of your determination and well-rounded approach to life.

Take a look at the entry-level resume samples in this collection and make note of some of the skills that might interest potential employers, regardless of the job or the industry.

 
TIP: Need a cover letter? Click here to view our Entry Level Cover Letters.
 

Should I Include References in my Entry-level Resume

At some point before make a formal offer, your employers are very likely to ask you for a list of references, or the names and contact information for at least three people who can provide testimony regarding your character and work ethic. You may want to have this list prepared and at the ready long before it’s requested, but there’s usually no need to include your references within the text of your resume. Create this list in a separate document and get ready to send it to your employers when they ask. In the meantime, check the job post carefully for specific instructions on this point.

 

Entry-level Resume Fails: Mistakes to Avoid

As you review these entry-level resume samples and start drafting and editing your own document, keep a close eye on these common mistakes.

Clerical errors: At the entry level, a single misspelled word or typo can undermine your chances of landing an interview. Again, if you don’t have a long track record and employers have little information on which to base a decision, they’ll make the most of what they do have. A single goof can suggest that you’re not very detail oriented. It can also imply that you don’t really want the job very much.

Resume length: At this point in your career, keep your resume to one page or less. You want to present employers with a concise and readable document that has all the information they need in one place.

Exaggerations and overstatements: Don’t let your insecurity get the best of you. If you’re desperate for a job, that’s okay, but never let your desperation push you to exaggerate claims on your resume. Your employers have been in this business longer than you have, and false claims are easier to spot than you might believe.

 

Job Prospects at the Entry Level

      Check the Bureau of Labor statistics at
www.bls.gov
    to learn more about current job prospects in your target industry and the rate of growth in your field. Some jobs come with more opportunity and some fields are more competitive than others, but if you do a little research, you’ll be better prepared for the realities of the marketplace.